The Biophilic Workplace

May 26, 2021

office

Compelling employees that it is healthy to come into the office is one of the most challenging tasks companies face today – updating the environment sends the clearest indication that their well-being is a prime concern. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the advantages of spending time in nature, even if it is just standing on a patio or deck with views of a few trees. We've realized how vital access to nature is too good health as we've spent more time indoors due to circumstances. One of the most visible indications of this is the growing emphasis on biophilic design, which seeks to incorporate nature into our indoor spaces.

Employers can also save money by switching to more straightforward, more accessible office facilities, as there is less requirement for office space. This presents a rare chance for employers to reinvent their office environments and construct something more accessible and more profitable. Here is where the biophilic layout comes into play. We must implement the improvements to keep workers safe and protected. Although this has typically included the social distancing of workspaces and the sanitization of common surfaces, we must also realize how vital biophilic design is.

Biophilic design, by definition, is a term used in the building industry to increase occupant attachment to the natural habitat through direct and indirect nature and space situations. A biophilic approach aims to get building inhabitants closer to nature. Buildings can integrate elements such as natural lighting, airflow, and environmental features to accomplish this. This results in a more welcoming and healthy built environment and facilities.

Biophilic architecture is distinct from the concepts of sustainable and green building. Environmentally-friendly construction practices are excellent, but they are mostly concealed innovations that would not impact a user's perception of the space. The incorporation of natural elements into a used space is referred to as biophilic design.

How did it start?

Ecology Professor Steven R Kellert was a strong supporter of biophilic nature. In the 1980s, he created the then-emerging theory of "biophilia," a concept described by biologist and environmental theorist Edward O. WilsonBiophilia is the term used to describe humankind's unconscious bond with the natural environment. Kellert and Wilson collaborated on some works that defined the principles of biophilia. Professor Kellert's dedication to biophilic design is recognized on an annual basis. The Steven R Kellert biophilic design award honors a designed project that best exemplifies the biophilic conceptual design and values.

Principles

Direct incorporation entails incorporating all-natural features into the structure itself. Plants, animals, flowing water, or natural light may all be examples. Indirect incorporation entails imitating nature using non-natural means like pictures of nature or natural colors and shapes. Professor Steven R Kellert advised six laws of biophilic design:

● Natural shapes and forms: Instead of smooth edges and sharp lines, we can replicate the natural world by displaying variety across multiple levels of design.

● Environmental characteristics: Integrating direct interaction with ecosystems into a built environment is an effective way to promote human-nature relations in architecture.

● Light and space: Natural light provides a relaxing and vibrant environment that varies during the day.

● Natural patterns and process: Biophilic workplace layout must involve all of the senses.

● Place-based relationships: Via their design, spaces must be related to the surrounding environment.

● Evolved human-nature relationships: Biophilic workplace design needs to provide people with sanctuary without isolating them.

Advantages in the workplace

STRESS LEVELS

A study discovered that those in biophilic design settings had significantly lower blood pressure and other stress and anxiety symptoms. According to the findings, internal green biophilic aspects aid in the healing of physiological stress, while an external view of biophilic design like natural light aids in the recovery of anxiety. The results of the combined biophilic design support this point because it improved both physiological stress and psychological levels of anxiety.

COSTS

Natural light is a more tangible benefit of biophilic design in the workspace. You would be able to switch off light sources if you use efficient biophilic lighting. Depending on the season, this may mean saving hours of lighting costs per day. Biophilic lighting, when properly constructed, can prevent heat changes. 

PRODUCTIVITY

Plants can reduce pollution in the air and improve efficiency and positive thinking – they are a vital feature of a biophilic workplace. It was found that there is reduced absenteeism and increased efficiency with biophilic design principles. According to one report, workers who have views of trees and natural landscapes take an average of 57 hours of sick leave each year, compared to 68 hours for employees who have no view at all.

ENGAGEMENT

Research contrasted the number of calls answered per hour by workers who had seated access to views of greenery through expansive windows from their cubicles to those who did not. They discovered that those who had views of nature managed calls 6-7 percent better than those who did not.

As a finding of the study, they altered the workplace to improve exposure to natural light. The construction costs were approximately $1,000 per worker, but the annual productivity savings averaged nearly three times that amount.

FATIGUE

Some activities involve concentrated effort. These tasks require skills prone to mental exhaustion and reduced productivity if performed for an extended period. According to research, biophilic design and nature can both relax and motivate the mind, allowing people to continue working while improving efficiency and reducing frustration.

Moments provided by biophilic nature give an outlet for a mental "stretch," encouraging the mind to reorient, in the same way, that the body tires from repeated use.

Ways of incorporating biophilic design into the office

GREENERY AND PLANTS

Plants will not only add life to your office, but they will also help to improve the noise levels. Plants also help enhance the air quality, which can aid in concentrating and reducing mental exhaustion.

Popular low-maintenance plants include:

● snake plant

● English ivy

● spider plant

● peace lily

● bamboo palm

LIGHTING

Boosting natural light benefits both people and electricity bills, but biophilic strategies integrate natural lighting in various ways. A lighting system that shifts during the day, either naturally or artificially, to mirror our body clock helps connect humans to their surroundings and, in essence, keeps us on track with our standard 24 hour period. Taking advantage of natural light and changing patterns during the day improves comfort levels.

SENSE OF SMELL

The sense of smell is one way that people interact with nature. In addition, there has been a significant movement toward multiple sensory workplace design. Exposure to nonchemical odors has been shown in research to have psychophysiological impacts.

Essential oils you may use are:

● cypress

● rosemary

● vanilla

● peppermint

● citrus

NATURE SOUNDS

To introduce elements of nature into the workspace, explore using sounds of rain, wind, or even fire. If you have access to a small fountain, that is best, but if not, consider using white noise to help people keep calm.

EARTHY COLORS

Consider earthy tones such as greens, browns, blacks, whites, and gold when selecting office colors. Using natural patterned wallpaper, experts recommend using irregular patterns that mimic nature but caution against geometric designs since they are made artificially.

NATURE-INSPIRED MATERIALS

Using natural materials for design purposes is a simple way to bring the outside in. Today's businesses embrace the uniqueness that workers seek by using natural-inspired components. Use wood and stone finishes in your furniture and decor. Wood embraces natural defects, enhancing each piece's individuality, elegance, and identity. Laminate, for example, has the look and warmth of wood.

The best items to have natural materials would be the desks, and what better way to make the most out of all the health benefits of biophilic design in your workplace but through ergonomics. You might as well take this chance of reinventing your office not only by focusing on what nature can do for your workforce but also by reaping the benefits of ergonomic design. You can achieve ergonomics through FlexiSpot as they offer height-adjustable desks with different nature-inspired colors and finishes such as:

● Laminated: mahogany, maple, oak, wood grain, walnut, marble, graphite

● Solid wood: black walnut, cherry wood, rubberwood, red oak

● Bamboo: Have a look at their beautiful Kana Bamboo Standing Desk!

If there is a "new normal" in which telecommuting is a standard part of life, the workplace must evolve. It has to be a more appealing environment where workers can go because they want to be there rather than because they ought to. Employees must receive concrete, measurable benefits. Since it is no longer needed, the office must contribute to the big picture of a company. This is something that biophilic design can do.

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